Writing is often called a cathartic exercise, but turning this introspective psychological act into a compelling piece of entertainment is another thing altogether. Somehow, writer/director Joseph Greco has managed to do just this with his feature film debut, Canvas. Based on Greco’s experiences growing up with a schizophrenic mother, Canvas stars Joe Pantoliano and Marcia Gay Harden in this portrait of a family struggling with the repercussions of mental illness. “I always wanted to make a realistic, yet entertaining film about the subject,” says Greco, “I needed to sublimate my harrowing experience into something useful. Make lemonade out of lemons, as they say.”Having worked as an assistant for Oscar winning director James Cameron (during the filming of Titanic) and garnering awards of his own with his short, Lena’s Spaghetti, Greco felt ready to commit his story to film. The most challenging part of writing Canvas was creating a story that was both true to the experience and emotionally satisfying,” Greco comments. “I did not want a happy-go-lucky ending. There is no cure for mental illness. One in five Americans lives with mental illness every day of their lives. They are heroes in my opinion. With that said, though, I did not want a depressing movie. While writing, I decided to just tell the truth – the emotional truth.” It seems that Greco’s goal was realized–Canvas, which premiered at the Hampton’s International Film Festival, has been praised by the National Alliance on Mental Illness for its authentic portrayal of schizophrenia. Currently, Greco is working on several new screenplays, including a comedy called The Big Secret.

To learn more about Canvas, visit the film’s Website at their website.